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Bucket Head

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Hi everyone. I’m Tom and I’m new.
I bought a 7 gal food grade bucket with a lid, and bubblerand. A 1 gal bottle of a raspberry wine concentrate. I cleaned it out with a non bleach cleaner. Mixed it up to make 5 gal batch. I used tap water but I have a filter attached. Pitched a packet of ec 118 yeast. I even bought a stirrer that plugs on a drill. So everything was oxygenated, and incorporated.
I pop the lid on and put in the bubbler.
It’s been a week now, and I haven’t seen a bubble out of this thing.
Now when I open the top? I see bubbles. I smell fermentation. I see motion.
I haven’t graduated to taking specific gravity measurements yet. So I don’t really know if I’m producing alcohol.
What’s wrong? Too much room for air to build up? It’s a big bucket. Is it leaking?
If I push on the top. The bubbler spits. So there is definitely something going on in there.
 

z-bob

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I agree with Lampy, small air leak, probably at the seal on the bucket lid. Nothing to worry about for now. How long are you going to leave it in the bucket?
 
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Bucket Head

Bucket Head

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Instructions say 2 weeks. I watched a video where they racked to another bucket, degassed, then rack again into a carboy. I just ordered a 5 gallon glass. Then another 4 weeks in there. I have five 1 gallon carboys but my gut says to keep it all together. Not sure how I’m going to move it around once it’s full though. In the Alaskan Bootleggers Bible it says something about building a box out of those heavy milk boxes. I’m probably going to try that. If I spill 5 gallons of yeast smelling dark red wine in my basement. My wife will shut this operation down. I’ll need to make something that tastes good for her to keep letting me buy all of this equipment.
My first attempt at red wine from juice was too sweet. It tasted like grape juice with alcohol in it. It fermented furiously, I racked it 3 or 4 times. Used a cambdon tablet. Bottle aged about 3 months. Tasted like juice. My wife laughed at me. Only because it’s one gallon of waste. This time it’s 5. So the pressure is on!
 
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Bucket Head

Bucket Head

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So to update, I noticed fermentation has stopped, or slowed to the point I don’t observe it. So I moved it to second fermentation 3 days earlier than instructions said. I got a hydrometer, and got SG of .999 or 1.
According to the bottle of syrup I bought original SG was 1.077
So I produced 10.17% ABV or close. Which is what this wine should be after second fermentation according to instructions. So I left it in the bucket too long. The wine is extremely dry, but after degassing, tasted like wine. Just new and super dry. Before degassing it had a sour taste. I’m guessing that’s the co2 trapped.
Anyway now in 5 gal carboy with absolutely no action. I don’t think it stalled. Which is my concern now. I produced the right ABV and it’s dry so I don’t think there is anything left to ferment. Should I clear, sweeten and bottle now?
It feels like I’m just aging in a large container now.
 

z-bob

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I would add just a tablespoon or two of sugar or a couple of Campden tablets to scavenge the oxygen that it picked up when you transferred it (the sugar would wake up the yeast and they will consume it and the oxygen. Campden tablets are an antioxidant and preservative), put an airlock on it, and leave it alone for a few weeks. Bulk aging is generally a good thing, but you're making a country wine and they are generally consumed young.
 

NTBeer

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Not a winemaker but as with most other fermentation, "patience grasshopper". There are many slower, less vigorous processes going on that need time to give you a finished product. Yes, you are bulk aging, but that is what you need. You would never buy a red wine that was three months old. And 3 month old homemade wine won't give you a happy wife either.
 

z-bob

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Not a winemaker but as with most other fermentation, "patience grasshopper". There are many slower, less vigorous processes going on that need time to give you a finished product. Yes, you are bulk aging, but that is what you need. You would never buy a red wine that was three months old. And 3 month old homemade wine won't give you a happy wife either.
Three months old might be fine for a raspberry wine made from syrup, I don't know. Three weeks is definitely not ready :)
 
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Bucket Head

Bucket Head

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Thanks for the information everyone. I’m starting to realize home brewing is more than just following a recipe. Now that I have a hydrometer I understand why it’s so important. I’ll add that sugar and cambdon tablets. Take another reading in a few weeks.
 

z-bob

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Thanks for the information everyone. I’m starting to realize home brewing is more than just following a recipe. Now that I have a hydrometer I understand why it’s so important. I’ll add that sugar and cambdon tablets. Take another reading in a few weeks.
Sugar OR Campden tablets. (although it probably wouldn't hurt anything to add both)

How much air space is at the top of the carboy? You want to minimize that. One way is to add a bunch of sanitized glass or porcelain marbles.
 
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Bucket Head

Bucket Head

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Thanks for clarifying.
I lost maybe 2 glasses in the transfer. But there is about 2 inches of headspace below the neck. I’ll get some marbles.

Now I’ve got 2 empty buckets and I’m looking to make beer while the weather is right. Seems most beer is fermented at lower temperatures than I have in my basement. I’m guessing I fermented the raspberry a little hot since it finished so early. I’m at exactly 75 degrees steady down there. Should have been closer to 70 I’m guessing.
 
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Bucket Head

Bucket Head

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Sugar OR Campden tablets. (although it probably wouldn't hurt anything to add both)

How much air space is at the top of the carboy? You want to minimize that. One way is to add a bunch of sanitized glass or porcelain marbles.
I decided to just add sugar, and about 2 tablespoons. It immediately reacted with my batch. Settling to the bottom. I didn’t need to stir. Now there is a cloudy cake developed in the bottom. It worked just like you said it would.
I’m curious. A cambdon tablet would have stopped any growth. But sugar protects because the yeast is back in control of the environment?
 

z-bob

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Adding a little sugar at racking time is something that I do; I've never seen anyone else recommend it. The yeast chow-down on the sugar, and they metabolize any oxygen that's available if there's any available. It seems to work for me, but maybe I'm fooling myself. But it can't do any harm.

I add Campden tablets to wine at bottling time. I don't know what yeast you used, but wine yeasts are accustomed dealing with sulfites, and the relatively low level you'd be adding shouldn't phase them. OTOH, their job is almost done so it probably wouldn't matter. Adding the Campden tablets now would protect the wine from oxidation because that's what it does; it's an antioxidant. :)
 
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Bucket Head

Bucket Head

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I see what your saying about headspace now. I developed a weird white foam that looks like mold. A few tiny spots floating around. After looking closer I saw it’s actually really tiny white bubbles. I added 4 crushed cambdon tablets. It’s been a few days since I added the sugar, and it seems like the yeast finished it.
The reason I’m calling is because the tiny white bubbles didn’t go away. It’s like 3 tiny groups. Also, there is now a while build up on the top area of the carboy.
I’m guessing the dry white is undiluted cambdon tablet. (I did crush and put in tiny amount of hot water.)

My question is what is the persistent white crap floating on my wine?
I also ordered those marbles, should be here tomorrow.
 
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